1941 —
Daphne Arden

"I don't find sprinting hard work"

The Alexander Stadium must have been an inspirational place to train as a female sprinter in the 1950s and 60s, and Daphne Arden was one of the most successful sprinters there. She also clearly enjoyed the sport. Interviewed by the Birmingham Post during a training session in 1962, aged 21, she said: “I don’t find sprinting hard work. Training has to take up all my spare time, of course, but it is fun and there is social life to enjoy, especially at big events”

She won the AAA 60m indoor title 4 times between 1962 and 1966, winning in 7.1 seconds each time, and bettered that time by running 6.9 for a European best time in 1962. That year that she also won a silver team medal in the 4×110 yards relay at the Commonwealth Games.

Between 1961 and 1966 she competed at international level 22 times. It was an exciting time for the British sprint relay team and with Madeline Cobb, Mary Rand and Dorothy Hyman, Daphne was in a world-record breaking 4X110 yard team at White City, beating the USA, with the team clocking 45.2 seconds. This team, but with Janet Simpson replacing Cobb, then ran in the controversial sprint relay final of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. They left the stadium with bronze medals, after Poland had won the relay, only to hear, 6 years later, that one of the Polish team had failed a chromosome test and that the IAAF had taken away her Olympic Gold medal.

In Tokyo Daphne also reached the semi- final of the 100m and the final of the 200m, finishing 8th in 24.00 seconds. She finished her international career in 1966, but not until she’d won a further silver relay medal at the Commonwealth Games.

Her involvement in athletics did not stop there. In 1978, when she was living in Droitwich, she was approached by the council, which wanted to start an Athletics Club. She recruited Bob Marlow, her coach, to advise the fledgling Droitwich Athletics Club, which attracted 70 people to its first enrolment meeting and is still an active club 30 years later.

No.2 Daphne Arden, No.3 Mary Bignel:Rand, No.1 Dorothy Hyman